top of page

Project Sarasota: LGBTQ History



Florida Governor Reubin Askew signs bill to ban gays from marriage and adopting children in Florida.

Democratic Party.jpg

Democrats become the first major political party to endorse a homosexual rights platform

Lesbian Couple
Ban on gay marriage.jpg

Florida Amendment 2 passes which defines marriage as "a union only between one man and one woman".

Venice FL2.jpg

The Venice City Council unanimously passes nondiscrimination protections, including protections for LGBT individuals.


Then Governor Farris Bryant selected Sarasota to host an eight-county education forum on "homosexual criminals".

Magize Cover.jpg

In One, Inc. v. Olesen, the U S Supreme Court rules in favor of the First Amendment rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) magazine.

purple phamplet.jpg

“The Purple Pamphlet” was published by the FL Investigative Committee with intent to persuade the state legislature to adopt anti-homosexual laws.

JAN 1958
MAR 1962

Local package alcohol store, "Dixie Lee's", includes anti-gay sentiments in advertisements in the Sarasota News.

MAY 1962

Charlie's Newsstand in Sarasota was fined $200 for "selling and possessing obscene literature" which contained themes of "homosexuality".

DEC 1962
JAN 1964
Damron Address Book.jpeg

Bob Damron publishes his first book of gay bars from his travels throughout the United States. The "Bob Damron Address Book" fit in the palm of a hand.

DEC 1964

The Stonewall Inn, a popular gay bar in Greenwich Village, was raided by police. These riots were pivotal in reigniting America's modern LGBT rights movement.

JUN 1969
APA Vote New York Times Article.jpg

Homosexuality removed from the American Psychiatric Association's list of mental illnesses.

DEC 1973
JUN 1977
JUL 1980
ALSO Youth BLM.jpg

ALSO for Gay Youth Inc. was incorporated as a local nonprofit organization in Sarasota County in response to the high rates of suicide by gay and lesbian teens.

APR 1998

Sarasota realtor, Donald Geikie, founds the Gay Real Estate Executive Network (GREEN). Membership includes professionals throughout the real estate industry.

MAR 2005
NOV 2008
MAR 2012
Adoption Ban.jpg

FL Governor and A.G. drop fight to ban Frank Martin Gill and his partner from adopting their foster children effectively ending the ban on same-sex adoption.

SEP 2010
Purple Rhino.jpg

Founded by Robert Donaldson, the Purple Rhino Lodge, a membership-based gay bar, opens.

NOV 2013
FL Flag.jpg
AUG 2014

A U.S. District Court finds a FL law banning same-sex marriage and blocking recognition of same-sex marriages is a violation of the 14th Amendment.

Trans Flag.jpg

City of Sarasota passes amendment to include transgender protections to human rights ordinance when it comes to public accommodations, housing and employment.

NOV 2014
Marriage Equality.jpg
JUN 2015

Marriage equality becomes the law of the land! The U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in all 50 states.

Same-Sex Cohabitation.jpg

A bill passed the Florida House of Representatives and the Florida Senate repealed a 1868 ban on cohabitation between unmarried couples.

MAR 2016

The Bradenton City Council passed a resolution to congratulate singer Anita Bryant in her campaign against homosexuality.

JUN 1977
2015 City of Sarasota referendum to include Transgender and gender inclusive as protected community under non discrimination act.
2009 Asolo OUT night begins
2008 PRIDE By the Bay at
Van Wezel over 11,000 attending
 2005 GREEN Gay Real Estate Executive Network founded by Donald Geikie, still functioning.

Ken Shelin first elected openly gay City Commissioner for Sarasota.

APR 2005
2004 Tom Murray began producing LGBTQ+Documentaries.

2003 Chick Happy Hour Sarasota founded by Michael Sue Scott

1970s Glen Oaks Manor community established in Sarasota.

1976 Sand Box Nokomis gay bar.
1968-73 Kork & Kettle South Trail gay and lesbian bar owned by Joan Grabill and Jean Walsh.
Featuring drag queens and kings from around the state as well as go- go boys. There was a double door entry system for the safety of the patrons since this was pre stonewall and they had previously had someone shooting a gun into the bar, mafia threats, and other forms of homophobia.

Late 1970s Metro Church opened Gay chapter at the Waffle Stop.

Late 1980s Xtremis gay nights Tuesday and Thursday 80’s disco.

1981 Gayla organization held dinner parties.

2004 Ellen Dinner, women’s dinner different restaurants in town, Founded by Karen Murray-Parker ran for 14 years

2000-2003 City of Sarasota referendum to include LGBTQ+ as protected community under non discrimination act.

1999 Sarasota Pride Fest at Robarts Arena

1998 Bumpers Across from McCurdy’s had balcony and 90’s dance music.
1996 Jim Ferry creates “Fairy Things To Do” newsletter.
1995 Gay Saturday Breakfasts, group still meeting.

1994 First ALSO Youth Fundraiser Brunch at Ophelia’s.

1994 Witness Cafe and Bar corner of 41 across from Barnacle Bill’s (Great DJ Sinna G and drag shows.)
1993 Romeo, Retired Old Men Eating Out, Tuesday nights at local restaurants, still functioning.

1993 Romeo, Retired Old Men Eating Out, Tuesday nights at local restaurants, still functioning.

1992 ALSO Youth Founded by Betsey Nelson (originally Alliance for Learning Sexual Orientation)

1992 A League of Our Own Bowling league founded by Greg Creech, funds were raised to provide money for funerals for people who died from AIDS.

1978 Gay bookstore in Coral Cove name unknown.

1985 Roosters Siesta Key bar hosted T-dances and themed parties, would bring sand inside for “indoor beach” with beach chairs and netting for beach ball games.

1985 Peoples near airport on 41 in the Primo’s restaurant

1986 Stingers, where the Selby library is now, a fun dance bar, straight owned by John Stingline.

1985 Peoples near airport on 41 in the Primo’s restaurant

1985 DuBois Family Reunion Mayaka State Park Saturday monthly event ran for 18 years started with 65 and grew to over 600 attendees. Founded by Lana Bruce.

1986 Mel’s Place/ JJ’s/ OP/Rowdy’s/Triangle MLK dive bar with drag shows near Ringling College of Art and Design.

1985 UpperDeck gay bar/cabaret lower Main Street.

1986 Nexus dinner parties to meet other LGBTQ+ people ran for 4 years

1986 Gallespie’s Hillview and 41’ area.

1990s My Back Yard, an outside social LGBTQ+ space.
1986 Tracks dance club on North Trail
1989 gay bar at the airport location owned by Jeff Post operated for a short while, City Limits.

1986 Celebrities/ Upperdeck Bar second floor above Two Senoritas, clean, ambiance.

1987 St. Martha’s Church Dinners for PWAs or People With AIDS. Hosted by Donald Geikie and Bill Burgunder. Dinners were served Monday nights with cloth napkins, tablecloths and fresh flowers on each table.

1986 The Sawmill Inn was here at the Crossroads Plaza.

1986 Van Wezel AIDS benefit with Michael Bennett. There was a bomb threat called in and the theater had to be swept with dogs before they could return and finish the evening which speaks to the controversy of hosting this event at the time.

1987 Chada Lesbian Bar above Thai restaurant on ‘41.

1986 Golden Apple Theatre hosted AIDS benefit with a performance of La Cage Aux Faux.

1978 Daughters of Bilitis Sarasota chapter. The Daughters of Bilitis (pronounced Bill-E-tis) were the first lesbian rights group in the US.
1983 South Trail Cinema adult video theater.
harvey milk.png

Harvey Milk Festival Founded by Shannon Fortner 09/13/2010. Harvey Bernard Milk was the first openly gay elected official in the history of California, where he was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

SEP 2010

Sarasota Pride Inc incorporated 04/11/2001.

APR 2001
PPSRQ Street Mural.png
APR 2021

Project PRIDE SRQ installs "PrideWalk" inclusive crosswalk Cocoanut Ave and 2nd St. Downtown Sarasota, April 11, 2021.

APR 2019

Project PRIDE SRQ Founded in 2019.

APR 2016

A bill introduced to Florida Legislature to ban the use of conversion therapy on LGBT minors died in a House subcommittee.

JUN 2021

Project Pride SRQ marches Grand Flag across Ringling Bridge. The LGBTQ+ organization and its supporters carried the flag up the bridge on June 27.

1990-1994 Bar/Nightclub Backstreets

FEB 2024

Project PRIDE SRQ unites Sarasota and Manatee Pride for new Gulfcoast Pride. Opens first LGBTQ+ Pride Headquarters in Rosemary District! 1370 Blvd of the Arts Unit C Sarasota, FL 34236

2022 Grand Carnival LGBTQ+ Annual Gala established
2023 Silver Pride LGBTQ+ Senior Pride held at Senior Friendship Centers established
2008 Barrel87 underwent a transformation when Brian Zickafoose acquired it, temporarily closing it to launch the vibrant Throb Nightclub. Due to Throb's success, Zickafoose retained both gay bars in Sarasota, eventually reopening Barrel87 with a beer and wine license. Featuring renowned acts like Lady Leimont under Ronny Barnett's management, Barrel87 thrived for years before its sale in October 2015 to Joseph Allen. Allen revitalized the venue with fresh talent and bartenders. In March 2016, Allen partnered with adult film star Hunter Vance and experienced bartender Curtis Tomas to secure a liquor license, culminating in a grand reopening celebration on June 3rd, 2016.
JUN 2021 Sarasota approved the city's first Pride Month proclamation earlier in June. And city officials fought to have the bridge lit up with rainbow colors, helping to reverse a state decision earlier to deny the lighting display.
NOV 2016 Joshua Beadle founds SarasotaOUT website and G2H2 monthly social event 
MAR 2018 Oasis Nightclub opens in Gulfgate. 2020 moves to Rosemary District. Closes April 2023
MAY 2024
Paul Lotierzo.jpg

PPSRQ hires first Executive Director Paul Lotierzo

We believe there should be an archive of Sarasota's LGBTQ history for future generations.


We are looking for significant people, places, moments, and organizations, etc that are a part of Sarasota's LGBTQ history and we need your help. Please send information, pictures, stories or any leads to help us document our history!


Gina M Garcia opens Qmunity LGBTQ+ bar 777 U.S. 41 Bypass S, Venice, FL 34285

bottom of page